- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 9, 2001

Internal Chinese Communist Party documents made public in a new book contradict key U.S. intelligence judgments about China and reveal the current party chief to be a hard-line leader opposed to democratic reform.

The party documents present a rare inside view of Chinese leaders, who regard the United States as an enemy bent on overthrowing the communist system by backing pro-democracy protesters in the days before the bloody military crackdown in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in the spring of 1989.

According to U.S. government and private China specialists, the material compiled by a Chinese government official with access to top-secret information also shows China's leaders were much closer to carrying out democratic political reform at the time than previously believed.

It also indicates successive U.S. administrations cultivated ties to China's current Communist leader, Chinese President Jiang Zemin, and shunned reform-minded party leader Zhao Ziyang, who backed pro-democracy activists and was ousted for opposing the military crackdown.

Mr. Zhao was forced out two weeks before Chinese military forces were ordered into Beijing to impose martial law and break up peaceful protests on June 4, 1989. His ouster came after he voted against using force at a meeting of a five-member ruling Politburo Standing Committee.

According to the documents, China's rulers feared arrest during the crisis and were so divided that party "elders" mostly retired generals eventually stepped in to appoint Mr. Jiang by fiat and orchestrate the bloody attack.

The crackdown resulted in thousands of deaths and ended a nationwide movement in favor of democratic political reform.

According to the documents, Mr. Jiang was hand-picked to take over the ruling party apparatus by the elders on May 27, 1989. He was selected to "oppose bourgeois liberalization" and reinforce the "people's democratic dictatorship."

He also was chosen as someone who could project a false "image of reform and opening."

The leader of the elders, Deng Xiaoping, called Mr. Jiang "a proper choice" for party general secretary.

Mr. Jiang won the post through what analysts say was an unconstitutional process after he supported an edict calling the protesters in Tiananmen Square "criminals" the first step in preparing for the crackdown. He also shut down a pro-reform newspaper in Shanghai.

"This is documented proof that Jiang is no moderate," said one congressional China specialist.

Mr. Jiang has been praised by U.S. leaders as a reformer who sings Elvis Presley songs and once attended Christian missionary school.

The papers are part of a collection of 15,000 pages of Chinese language documents turned over to U.S. academics, which will be published in a book this month. They include transcripts of meetings of top Chinese leaders, decoded intelligence reports and fax communications ordering arrests of senior officials.

They provide unique insights into Chinese decision-making in the days before and after Chinese troops and tanks crushed protests in Beijing on June 4, 1989.

"These documents show that Deng Xiaoping and the [Chinese Communist] Party view the United States as out to overthrow their government and as clandestinely controlling students," said one defense official.

In Beijing, a government spokesman yesterday denounced the documents as fakes. "Any attempt to play up the matter again and disrupt China by the despicable means of fabricating materials and distorting facts will be futile," Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao said in a statement quoted by the official Xinhua News Agency.

China analysts in the CIA are said to be worried the documents will increase pressure for a comprehensive reassessment of the CIA's analysis on China, which is under fire from congressional Republicans.

The book, "The Tiananmen Papers," was compiled from documents supplied by an anonymous Communist Party official working under the name Zhang Liang. He wrote in the introduction that Beijing's review of the massacre is inevitable and eventually will lead to "discarding the Communist system."

"These documents show leadership indecisiveness in a crisis," said James Lilley, who was U.S. ambassador to China at the time of the Tiananmen Square massacre. He said the material is probably authentic.

Mr. Lilley declined to comment when asked if the documents challenged the accuracy of CIA estimates on China. However, several of the documents seemed to reveal that some of the agency's reporting was flawed, including CIA claims of divisions between Mr. Deng and a key aide, Yang Shangkun.

"I think they made some wrong calls," Mr. Lilley said. The agency should review its China reports and "admit they were wrong," he said.

The new documents show Mr. Yang followed Mr. Deng's orders to oust Mr. Zhao, the pro-reform leader, and convinced the military to use force against the students.

One general, Xu Qinxian, refused orders to go into the square and was stripped of command of the 38th Army, based near Beijing, one report said. He was confined "to a hospital to recover his health."

Another case of flawed CIA analysis, according to some specialists, was revealed in a recent journal article by Paul Heer, the top CIA China analyst on Beijing's foreign policy. Mr. Heer stated that those who see factional politics in China's leadership are "misguided and even dangerous."

"The importance of these documents is that they undermine a common and mistaken view that the top Chinese Communist leaders are monolithic and never debate fundamental issues," said Michael Pillsbury, author of two books on Chinese policy debates published by the National Defense University.

"The documents suggest Western governments did not appreciate just how much of an extreme advocate for political reform China's top party boss Zhao Ziyang really was," he said. "Mr. Zhao should have been regarded by the Clinton administration and the West as a hero, like Nelson Mandela, rather than completely ignored during his 11 years of house arrest," he said.

Mr. Zhao and a deputy, Hu Qili, strongly opposed calling out troops to clear Beijing's central square of protesters. They were fired from their posts a short time later.

Then on June 2, 1989, the remaining committee members ordered the crackdown, supported by Mr. Deng and five other party elders.

Li Peng, China's current No. 2 party leader, is quoted in one document as blaming "a coalition of foreign and domestic reactionary forces" for spearheading the protests in order to replace socialism with capitalism.

Wang Zhen, one of the elders, then said of the protesters: "They're really asking for it. We should send in troops right now… . Anyone who tries to overthrow the Communist Party deserves death and no burial." In China, the worst form of punishment for someone is to leave their body unburied.

Another elder, Li Xiannian, stated that the capitalist conspiracy showed the West "really does want turmoil in China" and is "fighting a smokeless world war" against Beijing.


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